The best ODI batsmen of all time
Our expert sheds light on the greatest batsmen in the 50-over format. Read on to see if your favourites have made the cut.
I was engaged in a couple of conversations this week on who are the best ODI batsmen of all time.
Everyone talks about Sachin Tendulkar (but then again it’s hard to have any cricket conversation about all-time anything without mentioning Tendulkar). My Aussie friend was convinced Ricky Ponting would crack the top three, while Brian Lara also got some votes. I decided to use some numbers to settle the debate.
There are a few basic stats that we can look at for determining the best - the Castrol batting momentum is a measure of overall performance in an innings that combines runs scored and strike rate. Applying the same criteria over the course of a career (average and strike rate) gives us an adjusted batting momentum. In addition, I have thrown in few other factors:
- Strike rates have been adjusted for the era in which a batsman played in. For instance, Viv Richards’ strike-rate of 90.2 in the 1980s stood out a lot more in that time and has been appropriately increased based on the average strike rate of batsmen in the 80s compared to that of the 2000s.
- A “volume of runs” bonus for longevity/sheer magnitude of achievement has been added, i.e. the more runs one has scored in a career, the higher this bonus.
Finally, only batsmen with over 6000 runs have been considered.
Here’s what the final table looks like with the final adjusted batting score indicated in the final column:
|1||IVA Richards (WI)||6721||47.00||90.20||101.02||70.0|
|2||MS Dhoni (India)||6497||51.15||88.52||88.52||69.3|
|3||SR Tendulkar (India)||18111||45.16||86.32||89.34||68.4|
|4||MG Bevan (Aus)||6912||53.58||74.16||79.35||67.8|
|5||RT Ponting (Aus)||13686||42.63||80.60||82.21||59.7|
|6||JH Kallis (SA)||11372||45.48||72.88||74.34||58.3|
|7||MJ Clarke (Aus)||6622||45.35||78.10||78.10||57.2|
|8||DM Jones (Aus)||6068||44.61||72.56||79.09||56.5|
|9||ML Hayden (Aus)||6133||43.8||78.96||78.96||55.5|
|10||BC Lara (WI)||10405||40.48||79.51||82.69||55.4|
The top four are a notch above the rest and there’s not a lot to tell them apart. Richards is on top with an average of 47 and strike rate of 90 in an era when such numbers were unheard of. MSD is ranked ahead of Sachin at number 2 - the Indian skipper has a better average and strike rate, and Sachin’s “volume of runs” bonus did not get him ahead. (FYI - this bonus was a simple number from 1-10 with Sachin getting a 10 as the highest run getters in ODIs, and everyone else getting a pro-rated bonus based on their career aggregate).
Michael Bevan is the highest rated Aussie because of his average, which is the highest on this list. Ponting and Kallis come in at 5 and 6. The surprises are Michael Clarke and Dean Jones in the top 10 and both have very similar numbers. Clarke seldom gets credit for his achievements and it’s only a matter of time till we start thinking of him as one of the all-time greats. Dean Jones, who averaged over 44 for the bat will probably be more (in)famous for his commentary, but he’s arguably the most underrated batsman of all time. Brian Lara rounds out the top 10.
Honourable mentions go to Sehwag, Gilchrist, Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Yousuf and Sourav Ganguly who just missed out on making the cut.
Overall, it’s a pretty stellar group of batsmen in this list and Viv Richards is top of the charts.